What is a DBA Name: A Quick Guide to Doing Business As

Welcome to your comprehensive guide on DBA Names, also known as Trade Names or Fictitious Names! A DBA Name, short for ‘Doing Business As,’ offers a business the freedom to operate under a name that differs from its original registered title.

Here at LLCBase, we’ve gone the extra mile to bring you dependable, straightforward, and friendly information on this important aspect of business branding and management. A DBA name can add flexibility and flair when starting an LLC and doing business operations, whether for strategic marketing, rebranding, or expanding into new territories. Read on as we dive deeper into all there is to know about DBA names!

What is a DBA Name

A DBA name stands for “Doing Business As,” also known as a trade name, assumed business name, or fictitious business name. This is a name under which a business operates that differs from its legal, registered name. 

The purpose of a DBA name is to allow a sole proprietor, partnership, or even a corporation to function under a name other than the formal, established name on the articles of incorporation. For instance, a business owner may initially decide to register their limited liability company under a more generic name, only to rebrand later on with a more specific name that better conveys their goods or services.

DBA names are essential in complying with the transparency requirements of consumer protection laws. These laws require businesses to disclose their DBA names to the public to prevent unscrupulous business owners from deceiving consumers by operating under several names.

Securing a Doing Business As (DBA) name for your LLC can be a breeze with the help of one of the best LLC formation services. These service providers are well-versed in legal processes and can assist you in obtaining a DBA name that aligns with your brand and meets all legal requirements.

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DBA Examples

  • Jane Smith owns a clothing store she runs under her name. However, to attract more customers and give her business a unique identity, she uses “Smith’s Stylish Apparel” as her business name. Here, “Smith’s Stylish Apparel” would be the registered DBA.
  • Mark Johnson owns a gardening service and runs it personally. However, he publicizes his business under “Johnson’s Luscious Landscapes.” In this case, “Johnson’s Luscious Landscapes” becomes the registered DBA.
  • Rachel Carter owns an Electrician job but wants to offer her services under “Carter’s Reliable Electric.” “Carter’s Reliable Electric” would be the registered DBA in this scenario.
  • Matt Davis owns a pizza shop that he runs under his name. He decides to brand it as “Davis’ Delicious Pizza.” In this instance, “Davis’ Delicious Pizza” becomes the registered DBA.
  • John Doe owns a bakery business and operates it under his own name. However, he wants to brand it “Doe’s Delightful Donuts.” In this case, “Doe’s Delightful Donuts” would be the registered DBA.  

Does Your Business Require a DBA Name

Yes, there are several cases where you might want or need to use a DBA (“Doing Business As”) name. Let’s break down some of these scenarios to provide a better understanding:

  1. Sole Proprietor or Partnership: If you’re a sole proprietor (meaning you own the business on your own) or in a partnership (with one or more individuals), you might choose to operate under a name other than your legal name or the legal names of your partners. This could be for branding purposes, to separate personal and business transactions, or to create a more relevant or catchy name for your services. For instance, if your legal name is John Doe and you’re a plumber, you might choose to do business under a DBA like “Doe’s Dynamic Plumbing.”
  2. LLC or Corporation: Similarly, if your business is a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a corporation, you have registered a legal name at the time of formation, typically used for official documents and legal matters. However, sometimes these official names need to be more marketable or fully encapsulate what the business does. So, choose a more customer-friendly DBA that better communicates your offerings or values.
  3. Expanding Operations: A DBA can be useful if your business is growing and you want to expand your operations, move into new territories or even launch new product lines or services. This could be handy if the new operations are distinctly different from your original business, and you want to ensure your existing customers understand that you want to appeal to a different market with the new offerings. Applying for a DBA allows you to operate the new venture under a different name without creating a whole new legal entity.

Remember that operating under a DBA name generally does not legally protect the business name. Unless you trademark it, it can be used by any business, even those not associated with you. Also, requirements for setting up a DBA name vary depending on your location, so do check with your local county clerk’s office or similar authority.

Top Things You Need to Know About DBAs

Obtaining a DBA name can offer several benefits, and here are the things you should know about having a DBA name:

1. Enhance Branding

A DBA, or “doing business as,” allows businesses to assume a name other than their official legal title. This name, unique to the business, can be more market-oriented and directly related to the products or services the business provides. This can strengthen the business’s branding efforts, as a well-chosen DBA can help the company stand out in its field and make it immediately recognizable to its intended customer base. 

2. Affordable

Setting up a DBA is a more cost-effective alternative for small businesses than creating a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a corporation. The latter two options have more complex and expensive formation procedures, including filing fees, annual report fees, and ongoing compliance requirements. On the other hand, the cost to file for a DBA is typically low and generally requires fewer ongoing formalities, making it a great first step for a small business trying to establish its presence in the market.

3. Privacy

For sole proprietorships, a DBA can offer enhanced privacy for the business owner. Typically, a sole proprietor conducts business under their personal name. However, with a DBA, they can operate under a different name, meaning their personal name is not openly used in business transactions and public listings. This helps keep the owner’s personal life distinct from their business affairs and may shield them from unwanted attention or associations. A DBA can be a simple and effective tool for maintaining more professional interactions with customers and vendors.

4. Flexibility

A DBA allows business owners to evolve and adapt their business without making formal legal changes. Suppose a business starts to diversify its offerings or wants to rebrand. In that case, the owner can file a new DBA rather than undergo a potentially lengthy process of changing their legal business name. This makes it simpler and quicker for businesses to respond to changes in their market or strategy.

5. Easier to Open a Business Bank Account 

Most banks require a DBA registration for sole proprietors or partnerships looking to open a business bank account. With a DBA, the business can receive payments, conduct transactions, and handle financial matters under its business name, rather than its owner’s personal name. This helps maintain professionalism and may create a better impression on clients and customers. 

6. Attracts Potential Partners and Investors

A DBA can create a more established corporate image that might appeal to potential partners, investors, or customers. It conveys professionalism and suggests that the business is serious, dedicated, and prepared to operate in the long run. This can increase trust and confidence from potential partners or investors, potentially leading to more business growth and collaboration opportunities.

Choosing and Protecting a DBA Name

Choosing a Doing Business As (DBA) name is important in setting up a new business or rebranding an existing one. The name that you select should accurately represent your business and its offerings yet be simple and straightforward enough to remember and spell. This ensures that people can easily locate and talk about your business. Ensuring your DBA name is not deceptive or misleading is also crucial. For instance, naming a jewelry company “Fast Cars” might confuse potential customers about the nature of your business.

Even after registering a DBA name, it’s worth noting that this doesn’t furnish exclusive ownership or trademark rights. Registering a DBA prevents other businesses within the same county or state from registering the exact same business name. However, it only partially prevents others from using it, even in the same industry.

As such, if you want to secure your business name beyond any territorial boundaries and keep others from using it, consider trademark protection. This involves a separate process, typically including a search to ensure the name still needs to be trademarked and a filing fee. 

The overall process of choosing and protecting a DBA name involves thoughtful consideration and some necessary legal steps. Ensuring your selected name is distinctive, representative, and legally protected can contribute to your brand’s strength, reputation, and success. Simply put, a well-protected name can set you apart from the competition and gain the trust of your customers.

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Disadvantages of a DBA for Your LLC

One of the key disadvantages of a DBA for your LLC revolves around liability. While an LLC, by design, limits the liability of its owners to their investment in the company, a DBA does not afford the same protections. With a DBA, if the business is sued or incurs debt, the owner’s personal assets could be at risk of being seized to cover such liabilities.

As an LLC operating under a DBA, you are still personally responsible for any financial obligations or legal issues arising from your business operations, even though you’re doing business under a different name. It’s a risk exposure that could lead to significant personal financial loss.

Another disadvantage is the lack of exclusive rights over the adopted name. Registering for a DBA only applies to the jurisdiction where you’re doing business—typically, the county or state level. It does not grant you exclusive rights to the business name nationally.

Therefore, companies in other states could use the same DBA, leading to brand confusion or dilution. Unlike a federally registered trademark, a DBA does not give the owner a protected right to use the business name across the country. This can be counterproductive to your branding efforts, particularly if you plan to expand your business geographically.

How to Obtain a DBA Name

Here are the essential steps when obtaining a DBA name:

Step 1: Check DBA Name Availability

Before settling on a DBA name, you’ll want to ensure no other company uses it. This is crucial because two businesses running under the same DBA name can cause confusion among customers and potentially open up legal issues.

To avoid this, utilize your state’s business name database (often found on your State’s Secretary of State website) for your business name search. You can proceed if the name you want is not in use or is too similar to an existing name.

Remember that some states require you to check for name availability at the county level, particularly if you’re a sole proprietorship or partnership.

Step 2: Choose a DBA Name

After you’ve confirmed that your desired DBA name is available, it’s time to finalize your choice. Consider a name that best represents your business – it should reflect your products or services and resonate with your target customers. Above all, make sure it’s a name you’re proud to associate with your business.

Remember, a well-chosen DBA name can be a powerful branding tool. Consider brainstorming and seeking feedback from trusted peers before deciding your final choice.

Step 3: Register Your DBA Name

Once you’ve decided on a name, the next step is to register it officially. In terms of where to register, it varies by state and municipality. Sole proprietorships and partnerships usually register their DBA with their county clerk. Corporations, LLCs, or LLPs may need to file with their state.

Usually, you’ll need to fill out an application, which typically requires information about your business and the name you’re registering. Do read the fine print thoroughly in the application process. Some states require a notice about the new DBA to be published in a local newspaper.

Step 4: Submit the Application

After completing the application, you must submit it with the filing fee. The fee amount will depend on your state and municipality. The average cost can range from $10 to $100.

Upon applying, there might be a waiting period for the application to be reviewed and approved. If all goes smoothly, you’ll receive a confirmation that your DBA has been registered.

The cost to obtain a DBA name varies depending on the state and, sometimes, the county in which you are registering. In general, filing fees for DBA names in the U.S. range from as low as $10 to upwards of $100. Some states also require publishing the new DBA, which could add an extra cost. Therefore, it’s important to check with your local Secretary of State office or county clerk for accurate, up-to-date fees for obtaining a DBA name in your area.

Step 5: Use Your DBA Name

Congratulations! Once your DBA name is registered, you can use it in your business operations. This includes usage on your marketing materials, sales invoices, bank accounts, or anywhere else where your business name might appear. Just be sure to consistently use your DBA name as registered, without any variations, to avoid confusion for your customers or potential legal issues.

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Renewing a DBA Name

DBA names are subject to renewal requirements; however, these can vary widely from state to state. In some jurisdictions, a DBA name may never expire, while in others, renewals could be required every five years, every ten years, or in some intervals in between. Business owners must keep track of their DBA expiration dates in the state where they do business and ensure they renew their DBA names before the expiration date to maintain their legal standing.

Renewing a DBA name usually involves filling out a renewal form and paying a filing fee. The renewal forms are typically obtainable from the government agency where you originally filed your DBA name. Depending on your state’s regulations, this could be your state’s Secretary of State, County Clerk’s office, or another similar agency.

When filing, ensure your DBA’s renewal record information is accurate and up-to-date. If your business undergoes significant changes, such as an address or ownership change, you may be required to update your DBA filing before submitting your renewal.

Please renew a DBA name promptly to avoid penalties, including fines and potential loss of your legal right to do business under the assumed name. In some cases, if a DBA name expires, another business could register that name, causing a loss of brand identity. It’s crucial, therefore, to reliably renew your DBA name on time to avoid any potential legal and financial complications.

Changing a DBA Name

Changing a Doing Business As (DBA) name typically involves a formal process. This process usually starts with completing a new DBA name application, which should be procured from the county or state agency where you originally registered your DBA. The application will ask for specifics about your business, including details about the owners and the nature of the business.

You’ll also need to provide the reason for the name change. This could be due to rebranding, a change in ownership, or other business needs. Moreover, you’ll also need to check that your new DBA name is unique and doesn’t infringe on an existing trademark or business name. 

On top of filling out a new application form, the change of DBA name often must be made known publicly. This could be done by publishing a notice of the name change in a local newspaper, per your state or jurisdiction’s requirements. Some jurisdictions may require a notice of the name change to be published for several consecutive weeks. Your local county clerk or Secretary of State’s office can provide information on specific requirements for your area.

Other formalities include obtaining approvals from relevant authorities or paying a filing fee. Finally, remember to update your business’s DBA name with financial institutions, vendors, and any other establishments with which your business has ties under the old DBA name. This process can take time, so starting as soon as possible is important to ensure smooth business operations.


What is a DBA Name?

A DBA Name refers to a “Doing Business As” Name. It’s an alias a company uses that can be different from its legal name. It is also known as a trade, fictitious, or assumed business name.

Is a DBA Name required for all businesses?

Not all businesses require a DBA name. It depends on the jurisdiction and nature of your business. However, you will need a DBA if your business operations and legal business name are different.

What are the top things to know about DBAs?

Some key points about DBAs include their affordability, enhanced branding, offers privacy, flexibility, ease of opening a business bank account, and can attract potential partners and investors.

How can a DBA name enhance branding?

A DBA allows a company to operate under a name that may be more recognizable or relevant to its business, enhancing its branding.

Is a DBA name expensive to obtain?

No, obtaining a DBA is often cheaper than incorporating a business.

How does a DBA name provide privacy?

A DBA name allows the business owner to use a business name instead of their personal name for business transactions, thus providing privacy.

What flexibility does a DBA name provide?

A DBA name allows a business to operate under different names without creating separate legal entities for each.

How does a DBA make it easier to open a business bank account?

Banks generally require documentation of your DBA registration to open a business bank account under a fictitious name.

Can a DBA name attract potential partners and investors?

A well-chosen DBA name can reinforce your brand and make your business more enticing to potential partners and investors.

How do you go about choosing and protecting a DBA name?

Research well to ensure the name is unique and then register it with the appropriate government entity. Be sure to renew your DBA name as required.

Are there any disadvantages to a DBA for your LLC?

A DBA doesn’t provide legal protection to the business owner, unlike an LLC. Additionally, you cannot use the DBA name to form another LLC.

How to obtain a DBA name?

You can obtain a DBA name by filing the requisite form with the designated government agency and paying a filing fee.

How to renew a DBA name?

Renewing a DBA name typically involves filing a renewal form with the agency where you originally registered the DBA, often periodically.

Can you change a DBA name?

Yes, a DBA name can be changed. However, it will require a new DBA application, including filing fees, and you will need to update the name everywhere it appears in your business dealings.

Can a DBA name be used across different states?

Yes, but you must register the DBA in each state where you intend to conduct business.

Is a DBA the same as a legal business name?

No, a DBA is not a legal business name. It is only an alias for the legal name of the business.

Can a sole proprietorship business have a DBA name?

Yes, sole proprietorships can use a DBA name to operate their business.

Is there a limit to the number of DBAs a business can have?

There’s generally no limit to the number of DBAs you can register as long as each is registered individually and adheres to state and local laws.

Do I need to trademark my DBA name to prevent others from using it?

It is not required to trademark your DBA name. However, it can provide additional protection against other businesses using the same or a similar name.

Is there a difference between a DBA and a business license?

A DBA is used to register a business name, while a business license permits a business to operate in a specific jurisdiction.


Understanding DBA Name is foundational for your business’s branding strategy. It opens up growth opportunities, enables diversified operations, and adds a zest of creativity to your business identity.  

Wrap your business in a name that conveys your unique selling proposition and resonates with your market. Wielding a DBA name can usher in many benefits but also requires careful decision-making. Be sure to navigate to LLCBase for more friendly, comprehensive, and reliable info on navigating your business needs. Embark on your journey to carve a prominent identity in the business world!

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